Matusz rebounds from shaky start (w. quotes)

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera — in his first game back since taking a ball to the face more than a week ago–showed no signs of rust, sending Orioles starter Brian Matusz’s 0-2 offering into right-field for a two RBIs double to put the Tigers up before Matusz could record an out.  The 25-year-old Matusz allowed a three-run first inning as the Tigers opened the game with four consecutive hits, but settled in nicely after that to retire the final nine batters faced.

“[I] just came out of the gates amped up with a lot of energy,” Matusz said. “The first inning, it killed me not getting ahead in the count, gave up some two-strike hits. After that first inning, I was able to shake it off and just get back to work with [catcher Matt] Wieters. I really found a nice rhythm.”

Matusz was charged with three runs on five hits and walk over five innings, throwing 57 of 86 pitches for strikes in a solid outing that should put him as the favorite for the final rotation spot. His fastball was clocked in the 91-93 mph range on the Ed Smith Stadium radar gun and, assuming he stays on regular rest, Matusz’s next outing would be April 4’s game against Triple-A Norfolk, although he said Friday he doesn’t know what the schedule is for him.

“I did what I needed to this spring in order to go out and continue to build up my pitch count and get comfortable on the mound again,” said Matusz, who went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last year. “I feel like I’ve built my pitch count up and I’m strong and I’ve made the adjustments I’ve needed to mechanically and I feel like I’m on the right track to prepare myself for the season.”

Matusz is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in  24 2/3 spring innings and he appears to be the favorite now for a rotation spot. With Dana Eveland being designated for assignment yesterday and Friday’s news that Tsuyoshi Wada won’t start until Tuesday, it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where Matusz doesn’t make the team.

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